By Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali
We live in a time of paradox. On the one hand, interest in things Anglican has never been greater. Evangelicals in many parts of the world continue to be attracted to the ways in which Anglican ministry is ordered and in the worshipfulness of Anglican liturgical tradition. The Orthodox churches have long recognised a kinship with Anglicans, with some of them even making limited inter-communion possible. Pope Paul VI declared that when the Roman Catholic Church was able to embrace her ever-beloved sister, the Anglican Communion, nothing of authentic Anglican Patrimony would be lost.
On the other hand, in the last 20years or so, Anglicans have been engaged in a deadly game of self-destruction of ‘who blinks first’, with some churches defying the plain teaching of the Scriptures, the constant teaching of the whole Church, the mind of the Communion, and of those with whom they should have most in common, to capitulate to the seductions of western culture on matters like human sexuality, marriage and divorce, the sanctity of the person as made in God’s image and other issues.
At the root of this defiance is a misplaced confidence in human reason and fashion and a denial of revealed truth.
In the light of such developments, both positive and negative, some of us have felt that there is a need to bring together all those who value the Anglican theological, liturgical and ecclesial heritage to listen and to learn from one another, as well as to challenge each other, even as we seek a way forward to preserve and to enhance our common patrimony.
The impetus for doing something about this came about as we reflected on the 80th anniversary of the publication of Archbishop Michael Ramsey’s landmark book The Gospel and the Catholic Church and on the sudden passing away in 2016 of the Evangelical Anglican theologian, John Webster, the author of Word and Church in which his seminal essay The Self-Organising Power of the Gospel of Christ: Episcopacy and Community Formation is republished.
In this essay, Webster remarks that an ordered church is not just a practical arrangement, however desirable, but springs from the very nature of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
With limited resources of time and money, it has taken us more than a year to organise this conference but we have been surprised how quickly it has attracted speakers of the first rank from the whole spectrum of the Anglican world and from sympathetic Ecumenical partners.
We hope to deal with the apostolic, catholic and evangelical title deeds of Anglicanism, which are in danger of being lost by, it seems, the insatiable lust for innovation and for keeping up with western public opinion.
We hope to tackle subjects like the Anglican claim to Apostolicity, in order as well as in doctrine and practice, how Anglicans have contributed, out of all proportion to their numbers, to Ecumenism and how this contribution is being jeopardised by recent developments in the Anglican Communion.
What is our vision now forChristian unity? Are we content with just friendship and cooperation or are we still committed to the harder task of organic unity around Word and Sacrament?
We will also consider the influence of the Anglican liturgical tradition, both within Anglican circles and well beyond them.
We shall look at mission and atAnglican missiologists like Roland Allen, asking how they can help us to engage positively with cultures, whilst maintaining the revealed character of Christian truth and its proper relationship to human knowledge.
All of this to be undergirded, of course, by worship.
The speakers include the Bishops of Coventry and of Ebbsfleet, Archbishop Augustine DiNoia from the Vatican, Bishops John Hind, John Ellison and John Fenwick, Mgrs Andrew Burnham and Mark Langham, Drs George Westhaver, Steven Rutt and Gavin Ashenden, with worship being organised by Prudence Dailey of the Prayer Book Society and Mgr Keith Newton.
The conference will run over two days:25-26 April and the cost of registration is only £10! The venue is St Stephen’s House,Oxford and it is recognised that those from further away will need to make arrangements to stay overnight in or near Oxford.
The Conference website provides information on how to book accommodation.
For details about how to book see the website:www.anglicanpatrimony.co.uk.
We look forward to seeing many of those who value Anglican patrimony and pray for a way forward in the impasse in which Anglicans find themselves.
I pray that the Holy Spirit will indeed lead us into all the truth of Jesus and of his Church.